Skip to content

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) New Tibetan Strategy

[Editor’s Note>: In early January, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a conference on implementing a new round of work on administration in the Tibetan region. On January 25, 2010, the CCP’s official website published a speech given by Ye Xiaowen, the former head of the CPC Religious Bureau, the Executive Vice President of the Central Socialism Institute, and Vice President of the China Tibetan Culture Protection Committee. [1] The speech was on the “student forum” of the CCP’s Party School’s 46th seminar of the provincial officials in September 2009. The Tibet administration strategy he promoted was to use the CCP’s propaganda to reduce the Tibetan Buddhist canon and doctrine, to use the pursuit of material wealth to reduce the Tibetan’s pursuit of spirit, to limit the development of Tibetan Buddhism, and to use the CCP’s controlled propaganda machine to compete with western media on the “speaking power” on the Tibetan issue. It is indeed interesting to observe the atheist communist regime’s understanding of Tibetan spiritual values. The following is an abstract of his speech.]

The main conflicts related to today’s “Tibet issue” are the issue of sovereignty, and the issue of social development and change. The sovereignty issue has been solved. However, some separatists both inside and outside (of Tibet) are not settled and kept making trouble. The society has experienced great change, but it is just a start, with more development yet to come. Any change will cause conflict. The years of development will also be the “time of troubles.” (Let us) analyze the three troubles that occurred back in 1959, 1989, and 2008, from an external viewpoint. It was the Dalai Lama separatist group’s efforts, and from an internal factor it was the deep social change in Tibet. The Dalai Lama group used all means to take advantage of the conflicts that arose during society’s change. They used religion to enchant the masses to cooperate with each other from within to create trouble. No wind, no tide. Of course, this “wind” is coming from the Dalai Lama group that the western countries support.

Thus, our Tibet Administration strategy today should more consciously and actively steer social development and change. … The Tibetan Buddhism that was born and developed in the “womb of the old society” and that combined politics and religion together would be fettered by the new production relationship forever unless it experienced changes thoroughly itself.

The old religion was usually the haunting ghost created by the old system to control people’s minds so they would be against the new system. The “middle road” that the Dalai Lama promoted in essence opposes Tibet’s social development and change. The “ethnic, religion, and cultural autonomy” that the Dalai Lama promoted is to keep using the haunting ghost. They exaggerated the special and sacred nature of Tibetan Buddhism to hamper social development and change. Their formula is: Tibet = Religious Tibet = Cultural Tibet = Tibetan’s Tibet = Religious Autonomy. This is the sanctification of religion to the extreme, combined with extreme nationalism, the unification of religion with ethnicity, religious power with political power, and retreat to the old Tibet’s theocracy. We need to grab the “speaking power” on the Tibetan issue from western society. It is necessary to emphasize “anti-separation,” and criticize the Dalai Lama’s cover of the pursuit of independence. However, that is not hitting the home run. The Dalai Lama group skillfully packaged their anti-social development and change with the cover of western universal values and speaking power (democracy, religious freedom, and human rights). However, in western minds, the all-out efforts to promote the development of Tibetan society and change are not linked to the endeavors to get out of the darkness of the middle ages. Today’s Tibet… absolutely will not protect that barbarism and backwardness. It will not protect the old region that never changed and only served to preserve the old system. … The sustainable development of Tibetan civilization can only be well preserved with the development of its economy and the improvement of its living quality. It may not survive by claiming to “keep ethnic characteristics” or “protect religion and culture.” That would only let the whole ethnic group go down, to return to the backwardness of a “Buddhist Holy Land” with “everyone being a monk,” and to the darkness of “theocracy.”

Right now, in Tibet … some areas have built too many temples and have “religion fever.” The temples are expanding, including quantity and size and also function. Some temples “foster a bunch of lazy people and hide several bad people.” Thus the “Gods” in the temples have exceeded their boundary – the Dalai Lama as the “ultimate Master” and “supreme living Buddha,” is too much of a fantasy. He even called himself “the spokesman for the Tibetan people.” He is the “political leader” of the theocracy. That goes too far. On one hand, there is a big leap in economic and social development. On the other hand, there is the over heating of temples and religious fever. This forms a special dual structure. When a religion is worshiped by one or a few entire ethnic groups, it has two special functions: on one hand it strengthens the ethnic coherence and becomes the sacred flag of the ethnic group; on the other hand it strengthens their narrow nationalism and extremism which can be easily taken advantage of by dark powers. Once the narrow nationalism is combined with extremism, and the worship of “God” is combined with the worship of “God’s representative,” it could possibly result in extreme thoughts and violent actions.

Our party’s religious work’s basic principle requires “actively steering the region to adapt to socialist society.” For Tibetan Buddhism, the intensity, strength, method, and strategy of this “actively steering” is different from other regions and other religions. Today’s focus is to “actively steer Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the rising development of Tibet.” Thus we have to tackle the issue of religious “forms.” The form needs to cool down. This will touch the issue of “God” – “God” needs to be positioned (properly). Eventually, we have to tackle “religion.” Religion needs to reform. “Form” needs to be reduced; God needs to be re-positioned and the religion needs to be reformed.” These are the requirements to reach the goal of “getting in, standing up, and being effective” for the (party’s) temple work, and the requirement to break the cycle of “(Tibetan) turmoil – (government) control – (Tibetan) turmoil again – (government) control again” and to build a sustainable, stable society; and also the requirement to cool down the overheating of temples and religious fever in Tibet and other (neighboring) regions and to solve the conflict between religion and an economy that is undergoing leaping development.

Among the three elements of religion “people, place, and activity,” the first thing that can be put under control is the place. We need to focus on making temple administration standardized and legalized. We need to break through by solving the existing hard issues of the temple and managing all facets at the same time. We should encourage and support the interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist canon and doctrine that is abreast of the development of this era. We need to support the good parts of cannon and doctrine. Take, for example, the whole set of religious etiquette and tradition related to a living Buddha being reborn. Those are not adapted to development. They fetter the leap in development and should be discarded. Nowadays, the modern concepts have been ingrained in some Tibet Buddhist believer’s minds. The supporters of Tibetan Buddhism’s reform and modernization are increasing. In addition, we have to use all the means to enrich people’s spiritual and culture life. Material poverty is not socialism. Spiritual vanity is not socialism either. With spiritual vanity, it is unavoidable to have religious influence. However, the leap forward in the development of Tibet focuses on guaranteeing and improving public living conditions. Enriching all ethnicity’s spiritual and cultural life is itself an important aspect of improving the public’s living conditions. A spiritual vanity society may not have a sustainable leap in development.

We must implement complete separation of politics from religion and separation of religion from basic public living requirements. All children of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen are qualified to have “three guarantees.” All of them are guaranteed to attend high school. This will greatly reduce the rush for the youth to go to temples. The improvement of the free medical care system for Tibetan farmers and herdsmen will greatly reduce the number of patients going to the temples. Thus, the general public’s fantasy about heaven will not block them from pursuing their happiness in the mundane world. In the meantime, we need to be clear on the limits: no monks should participate in the activities that separate our country, or the activities that disturb the social order; no temple should interfere with administration, legislation, and education.

“Actively steering Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the leap forward in the development of Tibet.” How to be to the point? We must unwaveringly, steadily expose the Dalai Lama group. We should expose its nature as “fake peace, true violence,” “fake autonomy, true separation,” “fake dialog, true conflict,” “fake holiness, true evil,” “fake on protecting Tibet, true on damaging Tibet.” We should recognize that the Dalai Lama group is the representative of the old Tibetan theocracy and the separatist political group that the international enemy supports and utilizes to damage stable development in Tibet and to create “Tibetan Independence.”

Actively steering Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the leap forward in the development of Tibet” fundamentally needs to rely on many native ethnic advanced people. We need to pay special attention and cultivate Tibetan cadres. To the religious people, we should try our best to let them initiate change internally, have self-understanding, and conduct self-promotion for this profound religious reform. Only in this way, can we actively and steadily make progress.

[1] Theory website, February 28, 2010